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Press Release

For Immediate Release
May 21, 2014

Contact:
Communications Office
(603)271-2121

Governor Hassan Requests Federal Disaster Declaration for April Flooding in the North Country
Presidential Declaration Would Make Federal Aid Available for Carroll and Coos Counties

CONCORD – To help North Country communities respond to road and infrastructure damage caused by recent flooding, Governor Maggie Hassan today requested that President Barack Obama issue a major disaster declaration and provide federal emergency assistance for the rain and flooding event on April 15 and April 16, 2014.

“This storm produced significant rainfall, following several consecutive unseasonably warm days which caused a rapid melt of the snowpack in the northern New Hampshire counties,” Governor Hassan wrote. “This storm caused significant flooding, flash flooding and major road washouts resulting in tremendous damage to local road infrastructure. Two counties in the northern part of New Hampshire experienced heavy damage to their local roads and, in one county, a bridge.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, working with state and local emergency management officials, recently completed a Preliminary Damage Assessment, finding that the costs for infrastructure damage in Carroll and Coos counties exceed $1,900,000.00. The significant road and infrastructure damage from April’s flooding included a bridge failure that left an entire neighborhood without access to the rest of town until a temporary bridge was put in place. The bridge requires complete replacement and the disaster comes when Carroll and Coos counties are still recovering from two declared disasters in 2013.

Governor Hassan’s full letter to President Obama is below:

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, D.C.

Through:
Mr. Paul F. Ford
Acting Regional Administrator
FEMA Region 1
99 High Street
Boston, MA 02110

Dear Mr. President:

Pursuant to the provisions of Major Disaster Citation 401 (a) of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5121-5207 (Stafford Act), and implemented by 44 CFR § 206.36, I request that you declare a major disaster for the State of New Hampshire as a result of a rain event on April 15 and April 16, 2014.

This storm produced significant rainfall, following several consecutive unseasonably warm days which caused a rapid melt of the snowpack in the northern New Hampshire counties. This storm caused significant flooding, flash flooding and major road washouts resulting in tremendous damage to local road infrastructure. Two counties in the northern part of New Hampshire experienced heavy damage to their local roads and, in one county, a bridge.

In response to the significant rain event, I took appropriate action under state law and directed the execution of the State Emergency Operations Plan (SEOC) on April 15, 2014 in accordance with Section 401 (a) of the Stafford Act. Additionally, I directed the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to actively direct and coordinate the state’s emergency response and recovery to this event. The EOC was activated at a Level II from April 15, 2014 to April 16, 2014. There was no state of emergency declared for this incident. Fortunately, for the citizens of New Hampshire, there were no serious injuries or deaths as a result of this storm.

Although the damage to these communities was costly and devastating, there was no use of voluntary agencies. We did not anticipate the rapid nature of the flooding or the devastating effects. Likewise, there was no need for voluntary assistance as the damages all involved local infrastructure.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, the New Hampshire Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and local communities conducted a Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) which was initiated on May 12, 2014, to determine the extent of the storm’s impact. As demonstrated in the Public Assistance Enclosures, the state threshold is expected to exceed $1.39 per capita. Current state and local FEMA-verified assessments exceed $1,900,000.00 in costs associated with this event. These counties include Carroll ($3.91) and Coos ($54.49). Infrastructure costs include significant road damage and a bridge failure that left an entire neighborhood without access to the rest of town or a way out until a temporary bridge was brought in. This weather event impacted these small communities who have no full-time paid staff. The locally elected officials were left working long hours trying to document the damages and find solutions with a budget that was not designed for this type of devastating loss.

Of particular concern is the damaged bridge in Columbia, NH, which spans Lymann Brook. The Town of Columbia has no financial means to replace this bridge in the near future. This bridge was closed by the NH Department of Transportation on April 17, 2014, following a request by the Board of Selectmen to inspect it. The bridge was found to be heavily damaged and in need of complete replacement.

The following information is furnished on the nature and amount of state and local resources that have been or will be used to alleviate the conditions of this disaster:

  • The State’s Emergency Operations Plan was activated on April 15, 2014 and I instructed the Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to staff the EOC. The EOC was initially staffed at Level II to monitor the weather event and respond to local requests for assistance and/or resources. The Director initiated Emergency Support Functions as necessary to respond to this weather event.
  • During the weather event there were several towns reporting heavy damage and requesting assistance. The Town of Columbia was working through the emergency procedures for a neighborhood cut off from town by a heavily damaged bridge; the Town of Colebrook was assessing major damage to property along the Mohawk River as well as to a bridge in town. Many towns were reporting road closures due to washouts and high water across local roadways.
  • The NH Department of Transportation was reporting state and local road closures and assisting locals in barricading roads. The Department of Transportation remained in contact throughout the night reporting damages and closures.
  • The NH Department of Transportation Bridge Engineering Division provided an emergency assessment of the damaged bridge in Columbia and subsequently closed it due to severe damage leaving it unsafe for travel. Additionally, the Division will be providing technical assistance with regard to the temporary bridge installation and related load classification.
  • The NH Department of Environmental Services provided stream monitoring, hydrology reports and dam inspections during and immediately following the weather event.
  • The NH Department of Environmental Services will be providing further assistance to local jurisdictions for stream and river bank failures as well as inspecting failed culverts and water control facilities.

This damage comes at a time when the state is recovering from damages incurred during two declared disasters in 2013. A blizzard in February 2013 (DR-4105) devastated many communities and resulted in record snowfall levels causing major damage and power outages. A severe rain event in June 2013 (DR-4139) resulted in devastating flooding, loss of life and property throughout the state. Two of the counties included in these declarations are included in this current one. The financial burden for these communities is compounding and exceeds their ability to respond to subsequent storm damage. The northern New Hampshire communities that are continuously hit by these weather events are rural in nature with little to no business tax base. The consistent damage to their infrastructure weighs heavily on their small towns. Their budgets do not include more than the minimum in paid staff and rely heavily on volunteer emergency services and their elected officials to complete basic assessments and provide paperwork.

During the Preliminary Disaster Assessment, all cost estimates were reduced based on all possible and probable insurances. The majority of all damage was to roads and infrastructure.

Infrastructure Damage by Category:

Jurisdiction Category
A
Category
B
Category
C
Category
D
Category
E
Category
F
Category
G
TOTAL
Carroll $0 $30,000 $156,840 $0 $0 $0 $0 $186,840
Coos $0 $60,258 $1,732,252 $8,500 $0 $0 $0 $1,801,000
Percentages 0% 4.54% 95.03% 0.43% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% $1,987,850

 

I have determined, pursuant to 44 CFR § 206.36, that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of New Hampshire and affected local governments, and that supplementary Federal assistance is necessary to save lives and to protect property, public health and safety. Additionally, I have designated Leigh A. Cheney as the State Coordinating Officer for this request. She will work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in damage assessments and may provide further information or justification on my behalf. Accordingly, please declare a major disaster for the State of New Hampshire.

With every good wish,

Margaret Wood Hassan
Governor